Two years ago, I introduced my True Fantasy Points (TFP) system. For newcomers, my system is based on the fundamental truth that efficiency stats in football have a certain level of statistical noise (i.e., they're high-variance) and therefore uses math to properly regress players' Footballguys projections to the mean given their amount of projected opportunity (i.e., pass attempts, carries, and targets.). In the end, I use this calculation to compare players' "true," skill-based projected points with David Dodds' current projected points according to Footballguys standard scoring system. If you're still confused, click here and/or read the next paragraph.
Consider Eli Manning. In his Giants career, Manning's fantasy-relevant efficiency stats are 7.25 Yards per Attempt (YPA), 4.95% Touchdowns per Attempt (TD%), and 3.18 Interceptions per Attempt (INT%). Properly regress these values to the mean of all quarterbacks returning to their 2016 team, and Manning ends up with a 7.25 True YPA, a 4.91% True TD%, and a True 3.03% True INT%. Now, multiply these "true" efficiency stats to Dodds' current projection for pass attempts and apply the result to Footballguys' standard scoring system. The result: My TFP system projects 314.3 points for Manning, whereas Dodds projects 316.2 points, so he's currently "overrated" by 1.9 projected points.
TRUE STATS THROUGH 2016
Below are actual passing stats and "true" passing stats for the 26 quarterbacks starting for the same team they played with last season (sorted by True YPA):
|ACTUAL STATS||TRUE STATS|
I spent the majority of this section in last year's article extolling the "true" statistical virtues of Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson as the two-most efficient quarterbacks in the NFL. Therefore, rather than doing a rehash, I'll instead extol the virtues of a hyperefficient newcomer to the scene. Namely, after regressing his 459 pass attempts to the mean, Dak Prescott appears to be the real deal. Of the 26 quarterbacks in the above table, only 6 rank in the top half for all three "true" stat categories: Rodgers, Wilson, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, and ... Prescott.
To put this in context and give some actionable fantasy football intelligence, here's where those six quarterbacks currently rank according to average draft position (ADP):
- Rodgers is 16th.
- Brady is 24th.
- Brees is 31st.
- Ryan is 42nd.
- Wilson is 55th.
- Prescott is 85th.
Based on "true" stats, then, Prescott is poised to be a value. He's basically Wilson, just three rounds later; which is fitting because both have been perceived (incorrectly) in their careers as young passers riding the coattails of an elite running game. Yes, the Seahawks and Cowboys offenses have featured Marshawn Lynch and Ezekiel Elliott at running back in recent years, but Wilson and Prescott are (underappreciated) paragons of offensive efficiency in their own right.
What I'm trying to tell you here is that, if Elliott's suspension holds up, thereby necessitating an expanded passing role for Prescott, don't fret. In fact, double down. And if Elliott's suspension's delayed ad infinitum, also don't fret. (Prescott finished as QB6 last season.)
TRUE PROJECTIONS FOR 2017
Alright, so multiplying the "true" per-attempt stat above by Dodds' projections for pass attempts, I get TFP, which we can then compare to Dodds' point projections. As a result, we arrive at the following table:
|DODDS STATS||TRUE STATS||POINTS|
As an example of how to read the table, focus on the row representing Prescott. From left to right, what's displayed here is that Dodds projects him to throw for 3,725 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions, while Prescott's "true" stats imply that, over 485 projected attempts, he should throw for 3,714 yards, 23 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. yards. Apply the Footballguys standard scoring system to these stats (also adding in rushing points), and it turns out that TFP and Dodds' point projection are in agreement; only 4.6 points apart.
Based on the above table, below are two quarterbacks whose "true" stats suggest they'll overtperform Dodds' projections, as well as two others likely to underperform.
Underrated: Carson Palmer
Extrapolating from Dodds' projections, Palmer will post a 7.14 YPA in 2017, whereas his True YPA in Arizona is 7.60. Similarly, Dodds projects Palmer to have a TD% of 4.17%, whereas his True TD% is 4.87%. Given Palmer's advancing age (and Larry Fitzgerald's for that matter), as well as the continuing health concerns for John Brown, seeing a downturn in Palmer's viability as a fantasy football quarterback is reasonable. That said, seeing an efficiency downturn to the extent projected by Dodds is statistically unlikely.
Underrated: Aaaron Rodgers
Rodgers' TFP is so much higher than Dodds' projection because 4,391 yards in 580 projected attempts translates to a YPA of 7.57, whereas we saw from the earlier table that Rodgers' True YPA in Green Bay is 7.95. It's worth noting how scary-good this makes Rodgers out to be. He's projected as QB1, and my "true" stats still suggest that's underestimating him. (Does QB0 exist?)
Overrated: Matt Ryan
From both stats-based and tape-based perspectives, this summer has seen analysts proclaiming that Ryan is poised for a historic level of regression to the mean. When worlds collide like this, it's a good sign that it's true. And indeed, Ryan's True YPA of 7.45 dwarfs what Dodds projects (8.35), as does his True TD% of 4.84% (vs. Dodds' 5.93%). Couple this with the fact that Ryan's currently QB4 per ADP, and it's clear that he's TFP's No. 1 "avoid" candidate at the position.
Overrated: Derek Carr
Longtime readers/followers will surely recognize that Carr's been a perennial member of my overrated list. As you might have noticed earlier in the first table, Carr ranks 25th of 26th in True YPA, just ahead of Jared Goff, who (arguably) may have had the worst passing season in the history of the NFL. Carr's "breakout" 7.03 YPA in 2016 barely moved his "true" YPA needle from 6.51 to 6.61. (Kudos to Dodds, however, for nailing Carr's 3,937 yardage projection on the number. An exact bid, if you will.) Heading into 2017, Dodds projects a YPA for Carr that's essentially the same as last season (7.02) rather than a regression to his "true" rate.
What's worse for Carr's fantasy football prospects this season as opposed to last is that Dodds also projects a TD% of 5.04% vs. his True TD% of 4.68%. And as was the case with Ryan, the problem presented by all of this math is exacerbated by Carr's current ADP of QB8.